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Total Recall: Sliders “Gillian of the Spirits”

Welcome back to our Sliders recap and we’re kicking off 2011 with an episode that, while not as stupid as I remember, isn’t one of my favorites, Gillian of the Spirits.

The Sliders start out ready to leave an Earth that suffers from pretty much constant rain.  The gang is trying to make their way through the woods and finally are able to open up the vortex. Quinn is the last one to slide through but just as he does, lightning hits the vortex.  Arturo, Rembrandt and Wade all end up on the shore of the San Fransisco bay, minus Quinn.  Quinn winds up farther down the beach but for some reason the rest of the group can’t see or hear him.  Quinn becomes really freaked out when Wade walks right through him.  To make matters worse, the timer has been short circuited by the lightning strike on the vortex.  Arturo keeps a calm head and assumes that Quinn probably just ended up in a different part of the city, like what happened in “Summer of Love”, and so the group heads to the Dominion to see if Quinn is waiting for them.

Heading into San Fran, the city is straight out of the 1950’s with gas pump attendants, Spartacus in theaters and cops on horseback.  Arturo asks one of the cops where the nearest phone is but is almost arrested because of his digital wrist watch.  Quinn manages to spook the cop’s horse and the others manage to get away.  The group checks into the Dominion but Arturo learns that there aren’t any electronics shops or anything else technology related in the phone book.  Will Sasso tells them to be quiet with all the technology talk unless they want to be arrested by the Bureau for Anti-Technology.  Rembrandt assumes that if there’s a Bureau for Anti-Technology then there must be people who are getting arrested with said technology and so they head to one of the two people Rembrandt says you can trust with sensitive information, the local priest.

At the church, Quinn is shocked to discover that there’s a girl who is able to see and hear him named Gillian.  He tries to convince her to help him but she refuses and runs out of the church.  Meanwhile, Rembrandt talks to the head priest and finds out that one of his parishioners was arrested and went to jail for five years for having technology.  He’s out now and is still working with technology and will probably be willing to help them.  Rembrandt also learns that technology was banned after the bombing of Hiroshima because the government felt that technology would only lead to more and more horrible atrocities.  Outside the church, Quinn manages to convince Gillian to give the others a note from him.  She does but the group wants more information.  Quinn tells Gillian to tell them he’s stuck on the astral plane and to tell them about the time that he and Wade kissed in “Last Days” to prove it’s him.  Wade and Rembrandt are convinced but Arturo is still slightly skeptical.

Deciding that the only way to help Quinn and themselves, the group heads over to the address they got from the Father and are shocked to see that their possible technology supplier is Michael Mallory, Quinn’s dead father.  Arturo and the group explain their situation to Michael and he explains that he and others have been trying to convince congress that technology is only as dangerous as the person who’s using it.  They also learn that this Earth’s Quinn died of polio.  Michael gives them full access to his contraband technology and Arturo goes to work trying to fix the timer.  He just about has it but makes a crucial mistake by reversing the polarity of the conductor.  Arturo becomes extremely frustrated and Quinn realizes that he’s gonna need Gillian’s help to talk the Professor through the repairs.

Quinn finds her at her job at the local diner but she still refuses to help because she doesn’t want to look crazy.  Quinn wins her over by helping clear her when the money in her cash register goes missing and Quinn finds it in the purse of a girl who was picking on Gillian earlier.  Quinn and Gillian head to Michael’s house but the Bureau of Anti-Technology beats them there, arrests Michael, and confiscates the timer.  Quinn and Gillian tail the Bureau agents to Bayside Power Company and Quinn sneaks inside and learns that the “agents” that took the timer are fakes and that Bayside is stockpiling technology so that if and when the ban is lifted, they’ll be years ahead.  Michael is also revealed to be working for Bayside as well.

Quinn and Gillian head to the Dominion to let the group know what’s going on and Arturo and Rembrandt head out to break into the power company and get the timer back.  Arturo unleashes his inner MacGyver and rigs up a light beam to the fire alarm that causes the alarm to go off every time the light beam is broken.  The duo sneaks in during the alarm and manage to steal back the timer and also get some better tools.  The guys head back to the hotel to get Gillian and Wade and decide to break into Michael’s house to fix the timer with his spare parts.  Before they can leave, Gillian’s mother arrives to bring her home but Gillian convinces her to accept her ability and let her help the Sliders.  She agrees and they all break into Michael’s basement, where Quinn (through Gillian) tells the Professor how to fix the timer.  With 17 seconds to spare, the timer is back working but Michael arrives and holds a gun on everyone.  He said that he owes Bayside Power because they got him out of jail early.  Arturo activates the vortex and the energy from it lets everyone see Quinn.  He convinces his father to let his friends go and the Sliders each give Quinn a tearful goodbye because he’s unable to enter the vortex from the astral plane.  However, after the vortex closes, a red vortex opens up and Quinn is able to slide out after all.

Quinn, back in the flesh, lands in a bush right as the others are walking bye and everything is back to normal, besides the fact that they’re on Nudist World.

Gillian of the Spirits is definitely not the worst episode of Sliders but the mish mash of Ghost Quinn plus 50’s anti-technology world doesn’t really let either side get as fleshed out as well as they should.  I appreciate that they were trying to shake up the “timer gets lost, stolen” plot that was the basis for a lot of Sliders episodes.  I would probably put this episode somewhere near the middle if we were ranking the episodes.  Next week: an episode that I have no recollection about called “Obsession”.

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